Once, drugs and alcohol were addictive. Now the view is that you can get hooked on things like sex, sports, even rock music. It may sound like we're just making excuses for bad behavior, but there's a powerful urgency behind our beliefs about addiction.
What makes Everest the most dangerous mountain on Earth? Along with extreme cold, low oxygen, high winds, and bad weather, there's another, more elusive factor: the psychologically warping effect of the summit itself.
A person can be utterly overwhelmed by fear even though there's nothing organically wrong within his or her brain: complex systems can go off the rails despite every component working properly, a phenomenon of which ant colonies offer a vivid example.
I've never felt so flat-out dumb as I did that day. I'll never forget that horrible feeling of shame, seeping over me like hot acid, as I realized that I'd done something that could not easily be undone.
What doomed the 228 men, women and children aboard Air France 447 was neither weather nor technological failure, but simple human error. Under pressure, human beings can lose their ability to think clearly and to properly execute their training—a well-known failing that has proven all too difficult to eliminate.
Gerry Duffy, a rangy, chiseled 43-year-old from Ireland, ranks one of the most formidible endurance athletes in the world. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about him is that he used to be just like the rest of us.
Coaches are forever asking us to give "110 percent." But scientists have discovered that we always have more to give, no matter what form of exertion we're undertaking. We can't consciously choose to tap it, however, because our minds have a subconscious self-limiting mechanism.
Some things seem innately healthful and good, even though they can kill you. Others seem inherently dangerous and unwholesome, even though they actually improve our quality of life. How do our subconscious minds decide what's good for us, and why do they lead us astray?
Storm chasers enjoying immersing themselves in a weather phenomenon as brutal and violent as a battlefield. Indeed, their activities may actively contribute to the death toll. Twelve years ago, I went storm-chasing and got caught up in the aftermath of a deadly F5 twister. There was one death in particular that made me forever question the morality of storm chasing.
Humans and dogs have a way of intuiting one another’s emotions – of feeling like we know what the other is feeling -- that is unique among all the species on earth. But how they can achieve it is something of a biological puzzle.
It's the paradox of the internet age: never before has so much information been available so effortlessly, so quickly -- and never before has so much of it been completely erroneous. How do we decide what is true?